how Continental takes Michelin and Goodyear by surprise

The German equipment manufacturer Continental announces the launch of its new UltraContact NXT tires made of 65% recycled and ecological materials. The company is thus ahead of its main rivals Michelin and Goodyear.

We often hear that it is the exhaust gases that pollute the most on a car, and that the electric is therefore clean because this engine does not emit anything. However, we know that many other elements are also indirectly responsible for polluting emissions, such as the steel of the bodywork, for example. Not to mention the battery, of which lithium is still extracted under very average conditions.

A real breakthrough

But we also forget that tires are a major source of pollution, as a study conducted by Emission Analytics had already shown. Their wear creates indeed very harmful fine particles and more numerous than those emitted by an exhaust. Not to mention production, which is very energy-intensive, while 59 million tires manufactured every year in France according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

If some equipment manufacturers work at development of airless tires more durable over time, like Michelin with its Uptis, others are designing “cleaner” rubbers. This is for example the case of Continental, which has just unveiled its new UltraContact NXT. It is a tire made up of 65% ecological and recycled materials, as the press release explains.

Described as the greenest on the market today, this uses 32% materials of renewable origin, such as resin made from waste from factories processing wood and paper. This is combined with silica from rice husks reduced to ash. This is again waste, this time of agricultural origin, which can be transformed using a low-energy process. This is also used by Seat for test purposes.

Silica again makes it possible toimprove grip and tire life. Finally, natural rubber is also part of the composition of this rubber, in order to increase resistance and durability over time. This is associated with synthetic rubber and carbon black, made from biosourced and sustainable raw materials. These materials are ISCC PLUS mass balance certified.

A big choice

That’s not all, because this new UltraContact NXT is also made from 5% recycled materials, including rubber from end-of-life tires. This is also the case for the steel used for the structure, while the polyester fibers are made up of PET from processed plastic bottles. In total, between 9 and 15 are used per tire, depending on the tire size. Continental aims for fully circular production from 2050.

This new eraser is available in 19 sizes and will be available from July across Europe. Note that it was awarded an A rating for rolling resistance, wet braking distance and noise, which is the highest possible rating. This proves that the use of durable materials does not compromise safety.

This UltraContact NXT tire should help the German equipment manufacturer achieve its goal of offering rubber composed of 100% recycled materials by 2050. Currently, the proportion is between 15 and 20% in its current production. The company is moving in the right direction and shows a small head start against its rivals and in particular Michelin.

At the beginning of the year, the latter unveiled tires made up of 45 and 58% sustainable materials. For its part, Goodyear presented a rubber whose share of the latter reached 90%. However, it is currently a prototype, while mass production is planned for this year.

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